Have you ever noticed how narrators in a movie read a passage so fluently? This is because they read it with the good required speed, accuracy, and expression, demonstrating the ability to read smoothly and efficiently. In short, making the text sound like natural speech.
Reading fluency is a key aspect of reading development and is critical for a reader to develop comprehension skills. It is at times used interchangeably with reading comprehension, which refers to a reader’s ability to understand and retain the meaning of what they read. It involves not just decoding the words, but also making connections between the text and prior knowledge, analyzing the information, and reflecting on the message.
In other words, fluency is a measure of how smoothly and efficiently a reader can read, while comprehension is an evaluation of how well a reader understands what they have read.
Improving reading fluency requires a combination of instruction, practice, and support. There are a variety of strategies and activities that can be used to help students improve their reading fluency. By implementing these strategies and providing appropriate support, students can improve their reading fluency and develop a love for reading. Hence, below is an extensive list of strategies that can help improve reading fluency at home.
What causes poor reading fluency?
Poor reading fluency can stem from a variety of sources, like the case of the “reading blues.” Perhaps a student is feeling discouraged, unmotivated, or overwhelmed. They may be struggling to keep up with their peers and feeling like they’re stuck in a rut. Maybe they’re having trouble connecting with the material they’re reading like the story is in a foreign language. Or perhaps they’re simply in need of a change of scenery, like reading outside on a sunny day or cuddled up with a cozy blanket.
Reading fluency can also result from serious conditions like reading disorders (dyslexia) and communication disorders, which can worsen if early intervention is not applied. All these factors can contribute to poor reading fluency, but with the right support, encouragement, and creative approaches, students can find the rhythm and flow of reading and improve their fluency.
Strategies to help improve reading fluency at home
Below are 10 strategies to improve reading fluency for young ones that can be followed easily.
1. Daily reading
Setting aside a specific time of the day for independent reading can work wonders for young readers. This will help a child to develop reading habits, and increase their vocabulary and comprehension skills. It is important to make sure to have a variety of age-appropriate books and materials available for them to choose from. Additionally, trying to make reading a fun and enjoyable activity by creating a comfortable reading space and encouraging children to share their thoughts and opinions about what they have read, can provide a confidence boost.
2. Use repetition
Making the child read the same passage multiple times will strengthen the grip over newly learned vocabulary. This will help them to build fluency and automaticity. As they become more familiar with the text, they will be able to read more smoothly and quickly. Start with shorter passages and gradually increase the length as they improve.
3. Use of technology
Utilizing technology such as reading fluency apps and games to provide interactive and engaging ways to improve reading fluency is the smart way to help children. These tools can help with decoding, word recognition, and comprehension. Many of these apps include interactive games, quizzes, and assessments to help track progress and identify areas for improvement.
4. Practice reading aloud
Children can be asked to read aloud to a family member. This will help them to improve their pronunciation, intonation, and expression. This will also encourage them to use different voices and emotions when reading to make the story come alive. It will also help them to become more aware of their own reading habits and identify areas for improvement.
Breaking down longer texts into smaller chunks can have a child focus on reading one chunk at a time before moving on to the next. This will help to improve their focus and concentration and make the reading process less overwhelming. The use of a bookmark or a piece of paper to divide the text into smaller sections, and having the child read one section at a time can be the way to go about it. This will also help them to better understand the structure of the text and identify key elements such as characters, plot, and setting.
6. Use of visualization
Asking the child to visualize the story while they read can be yet another strategy to improve reading fluency. This will help them to understand the text better and make connections to the words they are reading. Having them close their eyes, and asking them to picture the story in their minds can encourage them to describe what they see, hear, and feel.
7. Implementing a reading reward system
Offering incentives for reaching certain reading milestones, such as completing a certain number of books or achieving a certain reading level, can be an efficient way to encourage the child at home. This can be a fun and motivating way to keep your child engaged in the reading process.
8. Practice reading with expression
Have your child read with different emotions and intonations? If not, it’s a good way to develop reading fluency in them. Encouraging them to use different voices and emotions to bring the story to life, will help them to become more aware of their own reading habits and identify areas for improvement.
9. Encouraging active reading
Active reading makes the child engage with the text through underlined or highlighted keywords and phrases. Another way is by taking notes, or summarizing what they’ve read. This will help them to understand better and remember the content of the text.
10. Reading with a partner
Pairing a child with a reading partner of a similar reading level, for instance, a friend or sibling can help the cause of reading fluency. This will provide them with a sounding board to practice reading with and give them feedback on their fluency and comprehension. Even parents can read with their children and discuss the story, ask questions, and make connections. This can help children to better understand what they are reading.
Tools and resources to use
There are many tools and resources available to help improve reading fluency at home. Some options include:
- Online resources: There are many free online resources available such as reading games, interactive stories, and e-books that can help improve fluency. Websites such as Reading Eggs, Starfall, and Learning A-Z provide a fun and interactive way for children to improve their reading skills.
- Audiobooks: Listening to audiobooks can help children improve their fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Many libraries have online resources for audiobooks and e-books. Audiobooks also have a lot of benefits for kids who have learning disabilities.
- Flashcards: Flashcards can be a helpful tool for children to learn sight words. Parents can make flashcards with words from a child’s reading materials and have them practice reading them.
- Hiring a tutor: If a child is struggling with reading fluency, hiring a tutor can be a good option. Tutors can provide personalized instruction and work on specific areas of difficulty.
- Watching videos: Content for children is now being produced with a focus on expanding vocabulary and understanding of language. With subtitles and pronunciation together, children can definitely learn a lot about words and phrases.
Reading fluency is an important skill for children to develop as it allows them to read with ease and understanding. Fluent readers can read quickly and accurately, which allows them to focus on comprehension and understanding the meaning of the text. It’s also important to note that fluency is not just about speed, but also prosody, the ability to read with appropriate expression and intonation. By providing children with appropriate texts that match their reading level, giving them opportunities to practice reading aloud, and encouraging them to read with expression and intonation, we can help them become more fluent readers. Thus, it’s important to encourage children to read with expression and to model the appropriate prosody.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn